Major collection of Aboriginal work to be auctioned

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On November 24, Bonhams’ Sydney auction house will be selling the largest group of bark paintings ever offered at auction as a single collection.

The Evatt Collection of Aboriginal Bark Paintings and Sculpture was amassed over 40 years by renowned barrister, collector and art dealer, Clive Evatt QC.

In 1972, Evatt opened Hogarth Galleries in Walker Lane, Paddington, which gained its reputation through selling works by avant-garde artists such as Brett Whiteley, Martin Sharp, Peter Kingston and Garry Shed.

In 1976, under the influence of curator, anthropologist, archaeologist and founding director of the Aboriginal Arts Board, Dr Robert Edwards, Evatt acquired a collection of Indigenous works and exhibited them in the newly created Gallery of Dreams adjacent to Hogarth Galleries.

The exhibition focused on bark paintings from Oenpelli and positioned Evatt as one of the pioneers in the field, with Hogarth Galleries being the first fine art gallery to properly exhibit and represent Aboriginal art centres from Arnhem Land. Following the exhibition, Evatt was inspired to regularly collect and exhibit works from the communities he represented.

The group includes works by the bark painting masters of the 1960s to the 1990s, many of which Evatt collected in great number including Yirawala, Lofty Bardayal Nadjamerrek, Enraeld Munkara Djulabiyanna, Bobby Barrdjaray Nganjmirra, Mathaman Marika, Declan Apuatimi, Wally Mandaark, Peter Marralwanga, Mick Kubarrku and Crusoe Kuningbal.

“Acquired over 40 years, the Evatt Collection is a culturally significant representation of works by Australia’s most important bark painters and sculptors,” said Francesca Cavazzini, Bonhams’ Aboriginal Art Specialist.

“No other collection of this scope has ever been presented to market. Comparable in its magnitude to the Arnott’s collection, now held by and currently on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney the Evatt Collection’s importance cannot be understated. We are delighted to be handling its sale.”